When a joint becomes injured through sports, overuse, or degenerative wear and tear, the bone lining (articular cartilage) that covers the bone where it touches (articulates with) another bone may become damaged. Once articular cartilage is damaged, it is incapable of healing on its own, and this may result in knee pain, swelling, stiffness, and limitation of function. Symptoms typically worsen over time, especially if flaps of cartilage catch within the joint or break free and become loose bodies. Eventually, the cartilage grinding may expose areas of the underlying bone, resulting in an abnormal, abrasive surface that does not glide smoothly.
One procedure used by orthopedic knee surgeons to help treat damaged cartilage, and decrease risk of further damage, is chondroplasty. Arthroscopic chondroplasty is a procedure that your physician may perform on patients who have articular cartilage roughening and thinning, before the cartilage injury goes all the way to the bare bone. Once your physician surgically enters the knee joint, through keyhole-sized incisions, he is able to smooth the rough areas of cartilage. Chondroplasty is recommended for partial thickness cartilage defects. In patients who have bare bone or a significant loss of cartilage, other procedures may be recommended.
Following surgery, your physician will prescribe a guided and progressive physical therapy program. Patient outcomes following chondroplasty are excellent with evidence-based rapid return to full activity.